What is the difference in syntax between American and British English?

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The influence of French on the English language wouldn't make any discernible difference between British and American syntax, considering that the French influence occurred centuries before there ever was an American version of English. British use of adjectives does not "mirror" that French. Some British people may choose to use that word order, but it is certainly not standard.

Syntax is the grammatical arrangement of words in a sentence. For the most part, there are no differences between American and British syntax. The biggest differences in the two versions of the language are in vocabulary, pronunciation, and spelling. However, there are some syntactical differences, such as these:

  • In American English, collective nouns are considered to be singular: The audience was silent as she sang. In British English, collective nouns are plural: The audience were silent as she sang.
  • The British use different prepositions in some expressions. Whereas Americans wait in line, the British wait on line. Americans stay in the hospital, but the British just stay in hospital.
  • British English speakers like to say that they have got something, whereas Americans simply say have.

You can find many more examples in the book British or American English? A Handbook of Word and Grammar Patterns. Look for it in your local library or read portions of it on books.google.com.


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With the tremendous influence of the French language upon English because of the Norman Conquest of 1066 in which William the Conqueror made French the official language and the language of the nobility, English yet retains remnants of the French grammatical arrangement of words.  When the Americans began to develop their own language, they broke from many of the ways of pronunciation and spelling (e.g. they changed the -re ending of words such as theatre to theater) and of word order, but the British retained this order in some cases.

One example of this syntax is in the word order with adjectives which sometimes mirrors that of French.  When, for instance, the famous English tennis championship is broadcast on television, the announcer says, "The Championship Wimbledon."  Whereas American English would put the noun Wimbledon before the other noun Championship in order to change Wimbledon to an adjective, British English uses the French order of placing the adjective after the noun.  This does not occur regularly, of course, but there are yet remnants of the French influence in England while the Americans did not retain them as they developed their own English.

Still another difference that is occurring more and more in American English is the use of the simple past for an action that has begun in the past but continues in the present. The English are more insistent upon the usage of the present perfect which is, of course, the appropriate tense.

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Describe the differences between American and the British English grammar?  

This question is very good. Let me make a few points.

  • First, it is important to say that no one version of English is considered more correct than the other. Both versions are accepted. This is an important point to keep in mind.
  • Second, there are variations. However, the greatest variation is in spelling. Reading a little of both literatures will show you that there are slight variations such as in "theater" vs. "theatre."
  • There are also grammatical variations and the nuances are slight. For example, in British English, the perfect tense is used to describe actions that just took place. For example, the British would say: "I have misplaced my book" Americans would simply say, "I misplaced my book."
  • Here is another example with the use of possessions. Americans would say,"Do you have a book?" The British would ask, "Have you got a book?" They use the word, "got."

There are many other nuances and you must learn them on a case by case basis. In the end, both are correct.

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Describe the differences between American English and British English grammar?

American English and English English (also called British English) grammar are considered identical. English English is most often taught to students around the world (although some countries are now beginning to embrace American English instruction). There are dialectical differences, like the use of have and got and the accepted collection of fixed phrases that do not require articles or possessives (e.g., UK: at University; US: at a/his/the/my etc  university), but these do not comprise grammatical differences. There are some punctuation differences though of late American English punctuation is gradually coming more in line with English English punctuation, pertaining especially to use of commas.

Grammar is defined as a formal (having form) description (for descriptivists) or prescription (for prescriptivists) of language and it's rules governing morphology and syntax in the verbal and/or written formation of words, phrases, and sentences. There are many dialectical variations in the wide number of varieties and dialects of English, but rules governing the morphological word formation and syntax of Standard American English and Standard English English are the same.

Both AE and EE follow the Subject Verb Object or Subject Verb Object Adverbial (SVO or SVOA) grammatical rule. There are of course variations to the SVO and SVOA grammatical order, but they are just that--variations to the rule. Another way to state the grammar common to AE and EE is to say that they both, by grammatical rule, follow the someone did something to someone/something somewhere at some time for some reason and/or for some purpose model.

The above model substitutes the SVO/SVOA prescribed grammatical definition this way: someone/S did something/V to someone/something/O somewhere at some time for some reason and/or for some purpose/A, yielding SVO or SVOA. Yet another way to demonstrate the grammar common to both AE and EE is to ask who did what to whom where when how and why. This wh-question model substitutes SVO/SVOA in this way: who/S did what/V to whom (or what)/O where when how and/or why/A. Ginger Rogers indirectly references this wh-question model when in Follow the Fleet she asks Hillary Hilliard, "Who's leaving what where when?"

[Let's analyze my last sentence into the SVO/SVOA pattern: Ginger Rogers/S indirectly references/V this wh-question model/O when in Follow the Fleet she asks Hillary Hilliard, "Who's leaving what where when?"/A. You'll notice that I've inserted the additional adverbial phrase "in Follow the Fleet" into the when-clause filling the A slot. It could also have been written as this: Ginger Rogers indirectly references this wh-question model in Follow the Fleet when she asks Hillary Hilliard, "Who's leaving what where when?" Adverbial phrases and clauses are the element of AE and EE grammar most open to variations in placement.]

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Describe the differences between American English and British English grammar?

I could find that there is a great many differences between American forms of the language and the British version of it.  In my mind, pronunciation and diction seem to be the largest difference.  I would say that there is much more geographic diversity in America in relation to language.  This is present in England to a great extent, but in America the different regions' pronunciation of the language helps to bring out a different nature to it.  For example, the dialect in the Southern part of the United States holds much difference than the far North Eastern section.  In this light, one can see an almost "new" version of the language emerge.

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